Ill Health: 14 Years After, Akeredolu’s Call For Yar’Adua’s Resignation Haunts Him

Ill Health: 14 Years After, Akeredolu’s Call For Yar’Adua’s Resignation Haunts Him

“We always know the right thing for others to do until we are confronted with a similar challenge,” Olusegun Adeniyi, former Special Adviser to late President Umaru Yar’Adua, wrote in a recent article published by ThisDay.

Adeniyi was referring to ailing Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, who is currently on medical leave outside Nigeria – the second of such this year.

Then as President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in 2009, Akeredolu serially called for resignation of critically-ill former President Yar’Adua who spent months abroad receiving treatment.

At a valedictory session held in honour of the then retiring President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umar Abdullahi, on December 4, 2009, Akeredolu maintained that Nigeria was on the edge of a precipice due to Yar’Adua’s incapacitation and called for his resignation.

“This country is nearer to a state of collapse, and we cannot afford to be left in the grip of the rumour industry which is the most thriving sector at present,” Akeredolu, who was represented by the then NBA Public Relations Officer, Mr Ikeheazor Akaraiwe, told the gathering.

“Nigerians deserve to know the true state of things. If our President is not capable of performing his duties anymore, it will be better for him to resign as it will not be difficult to find a successor for him as provided by the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria,” he added.

On another occasion, Akeredolu, in a direct swipe at Yar’Adua, said the love to serve the nation should not be at the detriment of its leader’s health, noting that “the prayer of the association is that the President should recover fast, return to his office, and resign.”

About 14 years after, fate appears to have done a 360° as Akeredolu now finds himself in a similar state Yar’Adua was.

Akeredolu has been out of office at least since June 2023 when he officially transferred power to his Deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, and proceeded on a 21-day medical leave abroad.

The leave, which was supposed to end on July 6, 2023, was later extended indefinitely as the governor continued to receive treatment in Germany.

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He later returned to Nigeria on September 6 and resumed at his private residence in Ibadan, Oyo State, to recuperate amid lingering crisis bordering on governance faraway in Ondo.

From Aiyedatiwa’s running battle with the state Assembly members who moved to impeach him, to the sacking of his media aides by the governor, the political crisis in the Sunshine State has headlined the dailies on a regular basis. It took the intervention of President Bola Tinubu to prevail on the lawmakers.

There were repeated calls from different quarters, asking Akeredolu to either resign or resume office, but his handlers continued to give an impression that things were under control.

It became abundantly clear that all was not well when Kayode Ajulo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, raised the alarm in November that some commissioners forged Akeredolu’s signature to approve documents. The claim was confirmed a few days later by the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Rasaq Obe.

“The irregularities in the signature were first observed when a file from my ministry was returned through the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG). This is the only file that has been returned so far out of the five files that were sent for Mr Governor’s approval about two months ago.

“Upon closer inspection, I noticed significant differences between the suspicious signature and handwriting and Mr Governor’s known signatures and handwriting in the file,” Obe had said, adding that a forensic analysis on the signatures confirmed his suspicion.

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On December 11, Akeredolu wrote to the state Assembly that he was proceeding on another medical leave. Although he handed over to his deputy, many have argued he should have resigned instead of transmitting power to Aiyedatiwa in acting capacity, especially given his stance during the late Yar’Adua’s health crisis.

“I commend Akeredolu for taking the path of law and public decency by yielding power to his deputy so that he can attend to his health. But he must also have learnt a few lessons in recent months,” Adeniyi wrote.

“One, in public engagement, empathy is important when we make a point on issues that touch on the health of another person….When we are in a position of power and are vulnerable due to ill health, we become pawns for political merchants, including those we imagine are on our side…it is important to state that while Akeredolu may have ‘stepped aside’, the political crisis in Ondo State has only just begun,” he concluded. (Daily Trust)


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